23rd August 2003

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
(Bath or Bristol)
(Pride of the Nation)

Loco Used 66022

Route:
1Z66 : Letchworth to Bristol Temple Meads
1Z28 : Bristol Temple Meads to Letchworth 

Loco Route
66022 Letchworth - Hitchin - Stevenage - Potters Bar - Finsbury Park - Freight Terminal Jn - Camden Road - Gospel Oak - Willesden Junction HL - Acton Wells Jn - South Acton - Brentford - Hounslow - Staines - Virginia Water - Chertsey - Woking - Fleet - Basingstoke - Salisbury - Warminster - Westbury - Trowbridge - Bradford-on-Avon - Bath Spa - Bristol Temple Meads
66022 Bristol Temple Meads - (reverse of outward route) - Letchworth 

Sources : various including Geoff Middleton

Tour Review
(by Geoff Middleton)

What with one thing or another, Ive not done many diners over the years a combination of the cost, lack of decent haulage or route/destination being among the main reasons.

However, with HRTs Pride of the Nation to Bath offering the chance to visit the Avon Valley railway, plus the possibility of another new shed for haulage (I know, I know, its sad), I decided to treat myself, take out a second mortgage and splash out the requisite 98 quid.

The first problem was accessing the tour, which started at Letchworth Garden City and picked up at stations to Finsbury Park. This being the Bank Holiday weekend, direct travel from Stafford to Euston (or almost anywhere else) was out of the question, but a quick drive across to Loughborough enabled me to get to St Pancras well in time for underground transfer to Finsbury Park.

The day started on a high note with the arrival of 66 022 at the head of the train another red line in the haulage book! Even better was to come when I located my seat on the train to find myself at a table for two. This would normally have cost an extra tenner at least.

As you might expect, the general atmosphere on a diner is somewhat different to your normal enthusiast spinner. The thing that struck me most was how much older most of the regulars appear to be. Im no spring chicken, but I felt positively juvenile sitting there armed with my pen and notebook among the octegenarians.

Major engineering in the Paddington area meant our tour had been diverted late in the day to what, for me, seemed a far more interesting route.

An excellent full English breakfast was served as we traversed the North London Line and then staggered via Kew, Hounslow and Staines to reach Woking. Here, the 66 was at last allowed to stretch its legs as we raced through Basingstoke and Worting Junction, where we took the route to Salisbury.

Such were the Network Rail timings that we were starting to gain rapidly and when a planned pathing stop at Westbury failed to materialise, it put us around 30 minutes ahead of the game. This continued as we passed through Trowbridge and on to Bathampton Junction. In fact, it completely caught out the catering team, who were just serving morning coffee as we pulled into Bath Spa.

Here, I managed to grab a sustaining pint before heading on the coach transfer to the Avon Valley. It was the first time Id visited this line and impressions were very favourable. We had reserved seats on their 2.45pm departure which featured a preserved 07 and some kettle or other in top and tail mode. Highly enjoyable.

Back to Bath Spa and having thoroughly enjoyed breakfast, I was now licking my lips at the prospect of the four-course dinner while retracing our outward route. Even more so the two gin & tonics Id pre-ordered as an aperitif (not usually my kind of drink, but hey, when in Rome).

And yes, the dinner was every bit as good as the breakfast and having also enjoyed the gins, I have to confess that my recollections of the journey home are slightly hazy. But it must have gone OK because arrival back at Finsbury Park was slightly ahead of schedule.

All in all, I have to say I really enjoyed the whole experience. The dining experience was excellent, the food well cooked and the service polite and attentive. Coupled with great weather, the visit to the Avon Valley Railway and another shed for haulage, it made the 98 seem like a bargain.

Geoff Middleton

Timings (Booked & Actual)

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Letchworth 07.48d 07.49   22.14a 22.01
Hitchin 07/52 07/53   22/10 21/57
Stevenage 07.57a ~ 07.59d 07.58 ~ 08.02   22.03a ~ 22.05d 21.48 ~ 21.51
Woolmer Green Jn 08/03 08/05   21/59 21/44
Digswell Jn 08/05 ?   21/57 ?
Welwyn Garden City 08.07a ~ 08.09d 08.09 ~ 08.12   21.53a ~ 21.55d 21.36 ~ 21.37
Potters Bar 08.17a ~ 08.19d 08.20 ~ 08.23   21.41a ~ 21.44d 21.24 ~ 21.28
Alexandra Palace 08/29 08/31   21/28 21/13
Finsbury Park 08.34a ~ 08.36d 08.34 ~ 08.37   21.22a ~ 21.24d 21.04 ~ 21.10
Holloway South Jn 08/39 ?   21/18 ?
Freight Terminal Jn 08/41 ?   20.52a ~ 21.16d ?
Camden Road East Jn 08/45 ?   20/49 ?
Camden Road 08/48 08/46   20/47 20/55
Gospel Oak 09/04 08/52   20/44 20/51
Kensal Green Jn LL 09/13 09/00   20/34 20/37
Willesden Junction HL 09/15 09/17   20/32 20/36
Acton Wells Jn 09/18 09/19   20/29 20/27
South Acton 09/25 ?   20/24 ?
Kew East Jn 09/28 09/26   20/22 20/23
Brentford 09/34 09/32   20/19 20/20
Hounslow 09/39 09/35   20/14 20/14
Feltham Jn 09/47 ?   20/12 ?
Staines 09/57 09/44   20/04 20/04
Virginia Water 10/05 09/53   19/54 19/53
Addlestone Jn 10/12 ?   19/36 ?
Byfleet & New Haw 10/18 ?   19/28 ?
Woking 10/27 10/25   19/24 19/27
Woking Jn 10/28 10/26   19/23 19/27
Farnborough 10/34 10/35   19/15 19/19
Basingstoke 10/48 10/48   19/03 19/08
Worting Jn 10/50 10/50   19/00 19/04
Andover 11/05 11/03   18/42 18/42
Tunnel Jn 11.19a ~ 11.38d ?   18/25 ?
Salisbury 11/43 11/30   18/18 18/20
Wilton 11/48 ?   18/10 ?
Warminster 12/06 11.50a ~ ??.??d   17/43 17/44
Westbury 12.16a ~ 12.32d 11.54 ~ 12.00   17/34 17/36
Bradford Jn 12/42 12/06   17/26 17/27
Bathampton 12/56 12/19   17/15 17/17
Bath Spa 13.00a ~ 13.03d 12.24 ~ 12.30   17.08a ~ 17.11d 17.09 ~ 17.13
North Somerset Jn 13/15 ?   16/57 ?
Bristol East Jn 13/17 ?   16/56 ?
Bristol Temple Meads 13.19a 12.44   16.55d 16.56


Back to "The Railtour Files"